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Title: An exploration of the gender and professional identities of ab initio pilots
Author: McCarthy, Faye
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 7379
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2017
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Despite it being over a century since the first woman gained a pilot s licence, piloting remains a male-dominated profession. Worldwide, only 3% of airline pilots are women and, of these, only 450 hold the rank of Captain, a number who could easily be seated within a single A380. UK airlines are recognising that the low number and proportion of female pilots is an issue and some carriers, including easyJet, have introduced initiatives to promote gender diversity on the flightdeck. However, as there are few female pilots qualifying and applying for airline jobs, there is a compelling need to both examine why relatively few women consider a career as a pilot and then understand the challenges those who do make a non-traditional career choice and enter the profession face during their initial (ab initio) training in reconciling their developing professional identity as a pilot with their gender identity as a woman. The aim of this thesis is to explore the effects of women ab initio pilots minority status on their gender and professional identities. To address this aim, the thesis utilises the Theory of Tokenism, together with concepts of Gender Performativity and Professional Identity, to explore the experiences of ab-initio pilots at two UK-based Flight Training Schools. New empirical evidence, derived from in-depth interviews and surveys, found that female cadets perceive elements of their professional identities differently from men, and women cadets adopt a range of strategies to negotiate conflicts between their developing professional and gender identities. The research examines the experiences of these cadets to make both theoretical and empirical contributions to existing studies of gender-dominated professions as well as offering practical recommendations to airlines and flight training schools who are seeking to encourage more women to qualify as commercial airline pilots.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Pilots ; Gender ; Aviation ; Tokenism